From the Ground Up





Being an entrepreneur boils down to two things.

  1. Being prepared
  2. Rolling with the punches

And what I mean by this is you can’t be prepared for everything.

However, you can be prepared for most things. When something unexpected happens, you need to be able to pivot and change your path or overcorrect to get your company back on the right course.

This is what today’s post is all about. Everything an entrepreneur needs, both physically and with their mindset. Let’s roll.

The Idea

We all know every new business starts with an idea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. You need to be a person with a million ideas.

Your business idea or the idea for a prototype is where it all starts. But you need ideas on how to put your company together, get funding, take your original idea from prototype to finished product, ideas on how to market the product, logo design, and the list goes on forever.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be a person who can come up with ideas for everything. You need to surround yourself with smart people, sure, but at the end of the day, you’re the leader of the organization and people are going to be looking to you for ideas.

The Plan

Before you write up a business plan, you need to have a plan in your mind.

Plans are kind of “stage 2” when it comes to entrepreneurship. You have a lot of ideas in your head. How do you get them from your mind to something more concrete?

It all starts with a pen and paper. You should write everything down. Every. Thing. And you need to start right now.

When you’re in the basement working on a prototype or sitting at your computer writing content for a new website, you should be writing things down. Anything that pops into your head, write it down.

Also, I definitely recommend keeping a daily entrepreneurship and productivity journal. Every day, you should be writing down not just ideas, but what you actually accomplished. How much time did you spend on your projects today? Where were you most productive?

This may seem silly, but when it comes time to do some hiring, you need to realize where your weak points are and having notes will not just help with reflection, but will give you an idea of the positions you should hire for first.

Something as small as, “I have no idea how to market my product” as you’re reviewing your notes is a sign that a marketing position is one of the first you should hire. Before writing your business plan, review your notes to look for ideas on how you can woo investors. Keeping this journal as part of your business plan may also help.

When you present your plan, showing you’ve kept a journal from the get-go may show just how serious you are about your startup.

Your Business Plan

You can definitely hire someone to write a business plan for you. The rates on this vary from website to website, and you can even have one done on Fiverr. However, I do not recommend having anyone on that site write your business plan. You want to hire a legitimate consultant for this work and it’s not cheap.

Most consultants are going to charge anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars.

When it comes to hiring independent contractors of any sort, you’re typically going to get what you pay for and if you’re bootstrapping your business, you’re probably better off writing the business plan yourself.

The Bones

A business plan is all about the cold hard facts. Where are you now? What do you do? Why do you do it? How are you going to pay for it all? How many people are you going to hire and when?

If you want a loan or are looking for investors, you’re going to be talking to people who want to see results, so you’ll need to have a business plan that shows how you’re going to achieve them.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, right? No one is going to just hand you money and expect nothing in return. You believe in your product or service. The purpose of a business plan is to make loan officers or potential investors believe in it as well.

Here are the things every business plan should have.

  • Executive summary – A brief overview
  • Company description – This is where you can describe what you do and most importantly, why you do it
  • Market analysis – Research on the industry, market, and even your competition
  • Organization and management – Your business and management structure. What are you going to do yourself? What positions are you going to hire for and what’s going to be outsourced?
  • Service or product – The products or services you’re offering
  • Marketing and sales – How you’ll market your business and your sales strategy
  • Funding request – How much money you’ll need for next 3 to 5 years. How much do you need immediately?
  • Financial projections – Supply information like balance sheets
  • Appendix- An optional section. You can include photos of products, licenses, any additional information the people reading this document may find interesting.

You want to keep this as short and sweet as you can. Make sure you have all of the necessary information. Present charts and graphs where applicable. Review your plan over and over again. Get friends and colleagues to take a look at it if they’re trustworthy and dependable.

Now What? – The Hard Work

You may think that once you have a product, a business plan, and some funding, the hard work is over. It’s all smooth sailing from here!

Unfortunately, this is not the case. We’re just getting started with the hard work. And there is a good chance you may still be working from your basement for a while.

I’m pretty sure this is the point where I stress how important it is to be careful with your funding. This money doesn’t last forever. If sales are slow, it’s not going to last long at all. You need to be frugal and focus on spending money when and where you need it most. Don’t cut yourself any checks. Don’t take any ridiculous vacations. Continue to work long hours and work hard.

This is your company and to get it off the ground you’ll need to grind harder than anyone else. You also need to be careful how hard you push employees. This isn’t their business and they won’t reap as much reward. You cannot expect them to care as much as you do.

Being a business owner requires you to carry a lot of weight on your shoulders and that isn’t going to change for a long time. As soon as you have your product or service ready to go, a successful business plan, and the money you need, then you need to mentally prepare for long days and long nights. It’s going to be lonely. It’s going to be hard.

But you can do it. You can be successful. And eventually, you won’t have to work as hard because some of the work will be handled by trained by employees, outsourced, or automated.

The Focus

There are 3 areas of business that make many entrepreneurs cringe.

  1. Marketing
  2. Social Media
  3. Customer Service

I’ve seen it often. And to be honest, writing those three things down together was enough to send a shiver up my spine.

These things are paramount to having a successful business. You need to advertise and get the word out and you need to take care of your customers as well as your leads and prospects. To use a word that is one of the most overused in the business world, it’s overwhelming.

Not only is it overwhelming, but there isn’t anything you can do about it. These three things are huge and can make or break a startup.

I recommend hiring a social media manager as well as customer service staff as soon as possible. Marketing is a much different monster. There are ad and digital marketing agencies all over the place and at the end of the day, you’ll probably save some money by outsourcing this to professionals who have seen success with other businesses they’ve worked for. If you want to learn more about marketing, check out this site for a great article.

Conclusion

As much as I want to say I covered everything with this piece, I certainly didn’t.

I can write for days and weeks on everything a business needs to get off the ground and find success. However, we don’t live in a perfect world.

Sometimes, even when you do everything right, you will still fail.

Being an entrepreneur is all about learning from your failures, getting back on the horse, and trying again until you start a successful business. It has been done a million times in the past and it’s being done by someone just like you every day.

How to Promote Your Ecommerce Store





The world of SEO is a strange and complicated world. Once you take the red pill, you find that the rabbit hole is much deeper than you ever imagined.

Local SEO is much different from social media promotion. On page and off page are completely different worlds.

What about doing SEO, promotion, and marketing for your ecommerce store? Do all of the same rules apply as they would for a brick and mortar store? How does it compare to a niche site?

Sit tight. Today, I’m going to break down what you need for promoting your ecommerce store and what you don’t need to worry about, so read on.

Local SEO

Luckily for you, local SEO isn’t anything you need to worry about if you don’t have a brick and mortar location. Unfortunately, local SEO is one of the easiest ways to boost business.

So this isn’t a good thing. It means you need to work harder online since traditional methods aren’t really an option.

What are the options?

Blogging

The biggest problem with blogging is how important it is for your ecommerce business. It doesn’t matter what you are selling. Windows, sneakers, solar panels or furniture, it’s all the same.

Related: https://www.microdinc.com/blog/improve-furniture-marketing-strategy/

When you have a brick and mortar shop, keywords really aren’t part of your overall marketing goal. But when you’re solely selling online, keywords are your religion. They need to be all over your website without being overstuffed. And the best way to accomplish this goal is to blog and blog hard.

Investing in a content team is definitely where you want to sink your dollars. When people ask me how often they should post on a blog, I always reply with, “How well do you want to rank?”

This is the most honest answer I can give. A great blog is going to bring in a ton of business, both from organic traffic and social media.

Now, I feel the need to put in a disclaimer here. It’s not enough to blog. Crappy content isn’t going to do you any good. You need quality blog posts that create a ton of value and makes people want to come back on a regular basis to read more and eventually buy something.

You should post as often as you can stand it. If your writing team can crank out ten solid blog posts a week, then do it. If they can only do 5, then do it. Put up what your team is capable of doing. Putting out fresh content on a regular basis helps boost your rankings and your domain authority.

The Keys to Blogging

I’ve written on this topic in great detail on Shoemoney. So I’m just going to give a quick rundown.

  • Know your keywords
  • Plenty of external and internal links
  • Calls to action
  • Scannable content
  • Great introductions and conclusions

Make sure your team understands just how important their jobs are to the business. You rely on online methods because your store is online and I’m assuming your target audience spends a lot of time on the internet.

If you make sure your writers are all on board with creating great content and you train them to write for SEO, you can utilize your blog in amazing ways.

Social Media

If you have a new ecommerce business, organic rankings and traffic are going to be zero. Social media is how you’re going to get early customers to your shop.

You’re going to have the most success with the channels your target demographic is using the most. Let’s say you cater to younger people. Specifically, the millennial and Gen Z crowd. These demographics spend the most time online and on social media, so it makes sense to target them for an online shop.

You definitely want to use the tried and true networks, such as Twitter. But you also want to look into “what’s hot” and do some research to find out if this is a potential channel that can bring in traffic. These are channels like Snapchat and Instagram, which marketers are currently spending a lot of time on testing.

If you have a large female demographic, then Pinterest is a no-brainer. Notice how I didn’t mention Facebook. There is a reason for this. Younger people don’t use Facebook as much as they used to. It’s becoming an old person’s social network, as young people flock to what’s new and shiny.

Video Marketing

Video is the future of marketing. YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, among others, have options to post videos and stream live. Despite this, only 9% of small businesses are using it.

This is a great way to get someone’s attention, especially if you’re going to offer something they can only get from watching this video and then doing something.

YouTube is not just a video platform, it’s also a search engine. To be precise, it’s the second most used search engine in the world and millions of hours of content are consumed every month. On top of that, it can also turn into a secondary income stream for your business.

PPC

Google isn’t a big fan of niche websites and affiliate marketers using AdWords. Legitimate companies are a different story.

However, this option can get really expensive really fast. If you want to explore this option, you want to speak with a professional or hire someone to handle the account.

While it is expensive, people who click on PPC ads are way more likely to make a purchase. They know exactly what they’re looking for, they’ve consumed a lot of content on the subject, and they’re ready to buy. So it’s definitely worth the trouble.

The Bottom Line

Ecommerce promotion isn’t necessarily harder than other forms of promotion and traditional advertising.

It just requires a laser focus and knowing exactly what you’re going to do it and when.

There isn’t anything in business that’s truly impossible. But you do need to find the holes and fill them.

Know where your audience is, be there, and let them know what you do.

How Rich Results Could Make You Rich





Search results are no longer exclusively text links. Depending on what you search for, you’ll receive a mixed bag of visuals, text, video links and possibly maps. If you’re a written blog, you’re competing directly with video at times.

It doesn’t seem fair, but it’s the way the internet is moving and you have to move with it. Your SERPs depend on it.

Aiming for the top of a pile of content rather than just the top of a text link list is called “aiming for rich results.” This means you will need to change your content strategy to compete.

First, we’ll go over the various kinds of rich results and later we’ll talk about strategies.

1. Video Results

Google recently began to feature video content in its own special section on a results page. This section stands out prominently to any user and will attract more attention.

Before Google began this practice, you had to actually click on a “video” tab to see video results. And this extra step kept people looking at typical search content. And since 1/3 of all online activity is video watching, Google realized they can corner a whole market of search results by putting them up front.

2. Rich Ads

Ad results have been a part of the search results page for a while. But only recently has Google begun to put visual ad snippets at the top of their search results.

You can’t organically compete with ads. These are paid for and artificially elevated. And they’ll often show up at the top of the page no matter what.

These include more than just links. You’ll see images, prices, ratings info, and the name of the business or website.

But you do need to understand how to make your results stand out so that ads don’t become a go-to for users. Especially if you’re selling products.

You can also take advantage of rich ads if you have the capital to put into rich ads. Simply create a Google AdWords account and create ads for products you sell.

3. Map Snippets

We don’t carry around actual maps anymore. We don’t even print them out anymore (mapquest, anyone?) Google is now our go-to for directions. Maps even re-routes you around traffic sometimes and that’s not always a good thing.

If you look up a physical location on Google, you’ll see a map pop up. If you look up a type of location such as a shop or a restaurant, you’ll get a map with a list of locations. These are called map snippets. And if you don’t have a registered business with Google, these snippets will always trump your local entry into Google.

What do you find in a map snippet? An address, photos, contact info, a small description of the business, and sometimes the business hours. You won’t get a link to the actual website right away. Some websites have complained about this because it is counter to SEO ideals. You cant drive traffic without a link.

But in a sense, I see this as a balancing mechanic. Those who trump everyone on the map snippets are limited by the fact they get instant attention. They might physical customers more than others, but they won’t sell as much online as others. Good for you, Google, you play fair sometimes.

4. Featured Snippets

When Google began using featured snippets everybody freaked out. GOOGLE IS ANSWERING QUESTIONS! They said. “Nobody will ever go to a website to find their answer EVER AGAIN!” They complained.

But again, The Google is a fair god. It doesn’t give you all the answers up front. It only gives up what it thinks is pertinent information. Often, this information is surface-level and not all-inclusive.

Most of the time, you have to actually click on the link to finish your search for information. And sometimes the best answer isn’t in the snippet but in the link after it.

The other weird thing about featured snippets is they aren’t always from the top spot in the ranking. Sometimes Google doesn’t actually agree with itself. I don’t know what this says about its metaphysic, but I’ll leave that up to the philosophers. But you can use this god’s contradictory nature to your advantage.

Since Google is obviously invested in answering questions for its users, your best bet is answering your customer’s questions. SEO content sites like Moose May set out to answer major questions about SEO and blogging. While they may rank second or third in the SERPs, they often end up in the featured snippet anyway.

What to Do About Rich Results

I know I’ve harped on schema markup before, but this really is an oft-missed part of SEO. Schema is essentially the name tag pile of HTML. It tells search engines how to categorize your information. And it also allows Google to create visual tags for your links in the rankings.

What kind of information does this include? A recipe is a prime example. You can post a recipe on your blog and then use schema markup to tell Google how long the recipe takes and how many calories it creates.

Visit Schema.org to get the necessary code for your specific kind of site.

For Local, Get Listed

If you haven’t yet, claim your Google listing. Google allows you to list your business. This is a good idea even if you only have a website. People trust a site better if there is a physical location and a phone number to call.

Then get listed in as many review and directory sites as possible. Getting your NAP in is important. That’s your name, address, and phone number.

And then tell everyone who comes across your site to review your business. And lastly, give Google content to oggle. Content marketing, while costly in time is worth it in reward.

How to Think of Small Business Ideas





Has a product or service ever hit the market and the first thing you thought was, “I totally could have made that!”

And you know what? You’re right. You could have.

But you didn’t, did you?

Someone else beat you to the punch. They come up with a business idea, they came up with a prototype, and then they followed through on building the business and promoting their product or service.

The reason you didn’t come up with it first is you weren’t ready. I firmly believe this. Starting a business takes a certain type of person, this is true, but it takes more than that. It’s all about coming up with the right idea and doing it at the right time. Here’s how you can come up your own ideas.

Be Patient

You can Google “Best Small Business Ideas” all you want. The sad fact is these pieces of content are going to have pretty much the same ideas. And every year, they’ll be updated with a few new items.

It’s not that all of these ideas are terrible, it’s just they aren’t unique. They aren’t specific to what you want to do. They aren’t your idea. And they’ve been done or are being done by other people who read the internet, which is everyone.

If you want to come up with an amazing idea for a small business, you need to be patient. Stop trying to overthink it.

Unless you’re a super genius, the chances of you coming up with something revolutionary are slim. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is unlikely.

The best thing you can do as a budding entrepreneur is to be patient and wait for ideas to come to you as well as opportunities.

Let the Juices Flow

If you want to come up with ideas, you need to be creative and think outside of the box.

This starts with being a copycat. That’s right. I said. Be a copycat.

What I mean by this is you should look at what other successful people do and you should mimic that behavior. This starts with the written word. If you want to be an entrepreneur, if you want to be successful, you need to read. The average CEO is reading 4-5 books a month.

Aside from books, there are other outlets you should also consider. Podcasts, newspapers, and blogs can all have valuable information you can use to make yourself smarter and be more creative. And don’t forget folks, this is 2018, and you can visit this site, which is chock full of apps designed to help get those creative juices flowing in the right direction.

While I’m at, there are several habits that you can mimic besides being creative. The most successful people in the world get up early. How early? Before everyone else. They get up at 5 or six in the morning, meditate, exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, and they’re in the office before everyone else.

They know how to start the day. This early riser mindset gets them ready for anything life has to throw at them.

When you wake up and stumble into work half-asleep, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Get up, get your act together, and get ready to face the day with a smile and a winning attitude.

Keep a Journal

You would be surprised at just how much you can learn from yourself by keeping a journal. Write down everything that happens during your day, both your workday and your off days.

When I say everything, I mean everything. This includes the food you eat, the drinks you drink, and every detail. This shouldn’t take any more than twenty or thirty minutes a day.

After keeping your journal for a while, include goals for your day. Do you want to eat healthier, work out more, or come up with small business ideas, it can all start with a journal.

You should also write down your productivity goals. When are you finding yourself to be the most productive? Are you eating specific foods around this time? Is there a certain habit that helps you to be more efficient? A journal can help you find out.

As far as business ideas, this can give you the opportunity to write ideas down as they come to you. If you look back on previous ideas, you may be able to expand or flip the idea into something awesome.

Hang Out With Like-Minded People

I’m not telling you to stop hanging out with your friends and family. But you should look into meeting other entrepreneurs or people who are also looking for ideas for businesses.

Most cities have various meet-ups for professionals in different demographics. I’ve seen online events for everything from blogging to real estate.

Speaking of going online, social media is a great place to find and interact with other entrepreneurs. Social media also offers other opportunities. You can find Facebook groups and mastermind groups all over the web.

The Takeaway

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Creating something from nothing is one of the hardest things you will ever do. However, the reward makes all of your hard work worth your time.

But at the end of the day, you don’t have to create anything new. You can take something that already exists and make it better. You can take a product or service and make even more products and services that pair well.

Use your imagination. Be creative. And follow your passions. These are how every business gets off the ground.

Upselling in the Digital Age





Upselling is a vital part of marketing. The goal isn’t just to sell. It’s to keep on selling.

You want lots of customers. You want repeat customers. You want customers to keep coming back and looking for premium services or products.

It’s important that you are able to deliver.

What do I mean, exactly? Here are some examples.

Amazon

We all shop at Amazon. It has become as American as apple pie.

Want I want you to think about is how often you end up buying extras. Below the item you’re looking for, you’ve sure seen the section marked “frequently sold with this item” or “customers who bought this item also bought this item”.

This is upselling at its finest. It’s something every business should be trying to do. Think of it as a 2-for-1.

The customer comes to your store or website, finds the product or service, pays for it, and then the transaction is complete, possibly forever.

Sure. Many businesses start that way. But if you want yours to grow and continue to be successful, upselling needs to be a priority. If you’re a small company or even a mid-sized business, you can’t possibly compete with Amazon. But you don’t have to. You just need to find the method of upselling that works for your business.

Examples

How often do you go out for coffee? The average Amercian goes out multiple times a week just for coffee.

Many modern coffee shops use digital menu boards. Every time you want to add something, it is going to cost you something small, like twenty or thirty cents. So your basic cup of coffee ends up costing you an extra dollar. Everyone adds something to their menus items, costing them extra money.

It’s just change for individual orders, but these upsells help the coffee shop drastically increase profits on a daily basis.

Think back to the last time you bought a computer. Did you buy what you wanted to buy or did you end up upgrading to a better system? Did you pick up a premium keyword or mouse? Did you pay extra for an extended warranty?

All of these examples are upsells.

And they work!

New Businesses

If you have a new business, how do you upsell?

Honestly, don’t worry about it. You need to focus more on branding and marketing and creating the best product or service.

When you come up with a second product or service, that’s when you start looking for upsells.

Get the word out about this new product or service and make sure your upsells are ready on the website. Your employees should be trained to mention upsells, such as warranties and add-ons.

The Takeaway

Upsell. Then upsell some more.

You can do it without being pushy. Amazon does it every day, all day long.

It’s time for your business to grow.

Implement upselling opportunities into your marketing strategy to take your company to the next level.

Blogging and Alternative Income Streams





In one of my recent posts here on Shoemoney, I discussed blogging in detail. Specifically, how bloggers get paid.

It sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? You live your life however you want, document the journey, and get paid for it.

Sure, this is great. And the reason it sounds like a dream is because it usually is.

Fortunately, there are other ways to make money that use your blog as a foundation. And here are a few ideas that have actually worked for people.

Freelance Writing

Do you think I started off as a marketing professional? No.

Do I have a degree in marketing? I don’t.

I started as a blogger, believe it or not. And once again, that blog had nothing to do with marketing or SEO. They came much, much later in the game.

I just wanted some pocket money. Mostly because I was poor. I applied for freelance writing gigs the same way everyone else does and I got lucky. My blog was enough to get me in the door. The content manager liked it so much she hired me with no portfolio to speak of, which was nice of her. <3

Freelance writing changed my life, gave me the freedom to explore new opportunities, and the money to chase my dreams without being afraid of failure. Even though it wasn’t on my own website, I was still able to get paid to blog.

My blog, to this day, doesn’t make much. Freelance writing is what truly next leveled my life.

Coaching

There are a lot of really smart people who are stuck in really crappy jobs. They don’t have the time, money, or resources to find alternatives to their current problem. This is where coaches come in.

And many coaches started with a blog talking about how they became successful. They give out quality information for free and if you want some one-on-one time with them, then you need to pay up.  Some of them still maintain their blogs and even YouTube channels to help bring in new clients. This helps to keep organic traffic and new people rolling into the site on a daily basis.

Some coaches even create their own products as an alternative income stream. They make courses and sell them online, hosting them on their own website or a site like Udemy.

Marketing

SEO and social media management are in-demand fields. Social media managers are expected to see 10% growth until 2026, which is higher than the national average. The pay is also not bad, with an average of around $50k a year.

SEO and content marketing related jobs have seen a sharp spike over the last year.

All of the experience you get from running your own blog can transfer into high-demand fields like these. The funny thing is that no one thinks about it when they first start their blog. They just say, “But I don’t have a portfolio!”

Yes, you do. If you built a blog from the ground up, took the DA to 50 in two years and have 20k hits a month, you have results. And that’s what hiring managers want to see.

Conclusion

The chances of you living the full-time blogging dream are pretty slim.

But if you can create a nice looking site with great content that has decent traffic, you may find yourself in a completely different field.

The best part is a lot of these jobs are remote, meaning you can work from home. That’s the real dream.

How To Start a Blog – Beginner’s Guide for 2018 / 2019





So, you want to start a blog huh? Great idea! But…how the heck do you get started? There’s so much info out there on the web, and everyone’s telling you to do different things. Who do you listen to? Where’s the starting point? Damnit, maybe you should just forget it – it’s too confusing! Well, hold up. I used to be a blogging newbie too. I had the same problems. I started my blog (BloggingBasics101.com) way back in 2006, and I knew less than nothing about blogging. In fact it was only the week before I’d learnt what a blog was.

Now I know a ton about them, and my blog’s doing pretty well – I receive more than 300,000 unique visitors per month which makes me consider myself someone you could listen to and learn from when it comes to building your own blog. I’m not some sort of Guru, but I certainly do know the basics.

I promise it’ll be simple, relatively easy, and definitely easy to understand (no stupid jargon). Sound good?

Awesome, let’s move on.

Why you should create a blog and join the blogging community

So below, I’m going to outline exactly what you need to do to get started and set up your own personal blog. Before we dive in though, I really want to talk about WHY you should build a blog.

Note: If you already have a solid idea of the whys, then skip this and go right ahead with the guide.

  1. Blogging has quickly become one of the most popular ways of communicating and spreading information and news. There are literally millions of blogs online (don’t worry, you can make yours stand out and get noticed!).
  2. It’s a great way to express yourself and also a fantastic way to share information with others.
  3. You become a better person and a better writer.
  4. The best reason? You can make money doing it!

I bet you already knew all of that, but it’s nice to be reminded.

One very last thing before we get started:

Creating your own blog can take a little while, probably up to 30 minutes. So grab yourself a coffee or juice (whatever you fancy) and let’s get stuck in. If you need any help during the set-up process, get in touch with me and I’ll help as best I can and answer any questions you might have).

 

Disclosure: This guide to starting your own blog contains some affiliate links. If you purchase a service through one of these links I may earn a small commission, this is at no extra cost to you.

The Steps Covered In This Blogging Guide

It’s nowhere near as difficult as setting up a website from scratch (there’s very little technical ability needed here). In fact, there’s no coding required by you. Good news, huh?

So, we made it. Phew. Better late than never! So, without further ado, let’s jump into step 1.

Step 1 – Choose your preferred blogging platform

Choosing where you want to build blog is pretty much the first thing you have to do. I’m going to take a leap and assume you’ve heard of WordPress, and this is the platform I advocate. It’s massive.

It’s by far one of the biggest blogging platforms in the world, with countless plugins and add-ons and almost infinite ways to design and layout your blog.

There are more than 82 million active users of WordPress = a lot, basically.

wordpress

There are other alternatives however, and they are listed below:

  • Blogger – Definitely the next best thing to WordPress.
  • Tumblr – Half social network, half blog. Interesting, and very simple to use.

Even though WordPress is bigger (and probably better) than those two, here are my reasons why you should still go with WordPress:

  1. Super easy set-up and is free to use
  2. Tons of free themes and layouts (I’m not kidding, there’s gazillions).
  3. There’s a massive support forum in case you get stuck (you won’t, but it’s nice to have it there if you need it).
  4. Your blog will be insanely fast and it’ll also look Functionality and form – perfect!
  5. People can interact with you easily. Your content can be shared, commented on, and so on.

Here’s an article about different blogging platforms (including WordPress), give it a read:

 

Now, Step 2 (see, we’re moving fast now!)

Step 2 – Self-hosting or a free alternative?

Whoa, slow down there! This is the biggest decision you’ll have to make before we go any further. You need to decide whether to pay for your blog or grab a free one.

WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger all offer free blogs for anyone. Awesome, right? It’s perfect for those of us who aren’t super serious about blogging. But it does have downsides:

1) You won’t be able to get your OWN domain name

On a free blog, your blog’s web address (your URL) will be butt-ugly. Like, really ugly. In short, create a free blog with any other the above free blog services and it’ll look like this:

  • yourblog.wordpress.com
  • yourblog.blogspot.com
  • yourblog.tumblr.com

I know, ugly right?

2) Limits and more limits

There are some limits to free blogs. You can’t fully monetize it, and you don’t have the possibility to upload all those videos and images you want to show everyone – it’s all limited. Worse still, you won’t even have access to the free themes offered by WordPress.

3) You DON’T OWN your blog

It might sound silly at first, but you don’t actually own your blog. It’s hosted on someone else’s web property and they can delete it if they want so. They have done so in the past, and keep doing it in the future. Which means all your hard work on your blog, all those countless hours of writing blog posts might be vanished within seconds. Sad…

On the other hand, with a self-hosted blog on your own domain name – you are the REAL owner of your blog. You’ll be able to name your blog whatever you want, for example “YourName.com” or “YourAwesomeBlog.com. You can end it with .com, .co.uk, .net, .org, or virtually any other web suffix. Add to that unlimited bandwidth for videos, images and content plus the free themes and you have a winning combo.

So how much is hosting and a domain name? Not as much as you’re thinking, fortunately. It usually works out to about $5 to $10 per month, depending on your hosting provider which is less than a couple of coffees.

 

Step 3 – Start a blog on your own domain (if you chose self-hosting and a custom domain)

wordpress blogging platform

I’m going to push ahead based on the premise you’ve chosen WordPress, and if you haven’t, you should. Seriously, it’s the best.

If you’re still a little confused by what a self-hosted blog is, allow me to explain and how you can go about setting one up for yourself.

You’ll need to come up with a domain name you like and also choose a hosting company that can host your blog.

  • Domain: The domain is basically the URL of your website. Examples: google.com (Google.com is the domain), Facebook.com (Facebook.com is the domain). See? Simple!
  • Hosting: Hosting is basically the company that puts your website up on the internet so everyone else can see it. Everything will be saved on there. Think of it as a computer hard-drive on the internet where your blog will be saved.

Personally, I use iPage (for my blog domain and hosting), and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about it. It’s probably one of the cheapest (less than $2.50 per month) hosting providers out there. A domain name will cost around $10-15 a year, but with iPage they throw that in for free :). Big smiles for that! They’re the providers I use for all of my blogs, including the one you’re reading right now.

If for any reason you don’t want to go with iPage, feel free to choose your own hosting company. Most, if not all of them, should have a “one-click” WordPress install solution on their admin panel.

That button will automatically install WordPress on your blog. Did I say it was simple or what?

All you need to do is sign up with iPage (or your chosen provider), choose your hosting plan and a domain name and look for the one-click WordPress install button on the admin panel.

WordPress essentials aren’t often needed, but I’d recommend whois privacy (that will keep all your personal details private) and definitely automated backups (this’ll save your website just in case anything fails or disappears, so you won’t lose any or very little of your blog).

I have a more in-depth tutorial on building a blog with iPage here.

 

Once WordPress is installed on your website, all you have to do to start blogging is go to your WP-Admin page usually www.yourblognamehere.com/wp-admin and start writing by adding a new post.

At the start, the layout looks confusing, but it gets very understandable quickly. Don’t worry!

Step 4 – Designing your WordPress blog

Now, the fun bit.

Let’s make your blog look exactly how you want it to. To choose a new theme, you can either head to Appearance > Themes and install a free WordPress theme or you can head to a premium theme website like ThemeForest.net and buy a theme for around $40.

I usually choose something that looks professional and pretty easy to customise. WordPress also has this awesome feature that allows you to change themes with just a few clicks. So if you start getting tired of your current blog template, you can just switch to another one without losing any precious content or images.

choose-blog-theme

Remember, your blog’s design should reflect both you and your personality, but also what the blog is about. There’s no point having a football-orientated theme if your blog is about tennis, understand?

On top of that, it should be easy to navigate if you want people to stick around. If it’s tricky and difficult to move around it, people won’t stay. Design is a subjective art; meaning everyone likes different things.

But no one likes ugly websites, and they especially hate websites that need a university degree to navigate. Make it easy for them.

Last step! Woo!

 

Step 5 – Useful Resources For Beginner Bloggers

Bloggers come to blogging arena with varying degrees of online and social media experience, but we’ve all made more than a few newbie mistakes – there’s always room for more learning and improvement, whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been blogging for years.

These articles may help you avoid some of the growing pains when it comes to your first blog – enjoy!:

And that’s it! I’m more than confident that your initial blog set up should now be finished and ready to go, and all that should have been really damn easy (unlike my first time, lucky you!).

If by some unfortunate circumstance you get stuck or have any questions for me about how to create a blog, just get in touch with me or leave a comment below. I’ll help you out with any problems.

Enjoy your new blog!

15 Local SEO Tips That Are Bound to Change Your Game





Did you know that 71% of people who use the internet look and confirm the location of a business before heading to it for the first time? Think of the last time you did? You might have been looking for the time a business opens or closes.

Local search is now as integral to our lives as toilet paper. We probably wouldn’t be able to navigate our world without it now.

So, if your local SEO game isn’t on, you probably want to pay attention to these relevant tips.

1. Start Outside the Internet

It’s weird, but when local journalists cover your business, you get a linkback on their online journal. Funny how that works, right?

But connecting to local news sources is one incredible way to show Google you’re a local star.

2. Get Scheming With Schema Markup

If you’re not using schema.org, you’re not telling Google enough information about your local business. Schema is an easy way to add additional information to your HTML and make your website tastier to Google.

It might seem late in the game, but a lot of your competitors probably have no clue what schema even is. If you don’t know how to do that, you can always hire a local SEO expert to add schema to your website.

3. Sign Up for Online Reviews

Reviews are now the biggest way consumers decide whether they are going to buy a product or patronize a business. Reviews are essentially social proof you’re good enough for the masses.

And Google pays attention to this. If you notice that someone is satisfied with your service, ask them to put a review up.

If they are dissatisfied, wipe their memory and start over. Or just don’t mention there’s a way to write reviews.

4. That Other Search Engine

Because people don’t often think about Bing or use it, SEOs are pretty guilty of not even touching it. But some people still use the search engine and it’s worth it to do a little bit of work to rank there.

That little bit of work just means getting listed on Bing Places for Business. It’s a really simple and easy way to get your business listed on Bing.

5. Google My Business, If You Please

Not only do customers trust your site better if you have an address, they’ll actually find your physical location and buy your things. Google knows this and they give every website the opportunity to list your address in their directory.

This gives you a whole page of information to display to potential customers who know where to look. You can give Google a description of your business, what category tags you’ll use, hours, and other great information.

6. Take a NAP

You want every one of your addresses across all websites to be consistent. For example, if your address is 1884 Barker St, you want every address out there to be abbreviated from street to “st.” This allows search engines to easily aggregate all mentions of your address.

This is a big part of your NAP strategy or your Name, Address, and Phone number.

7.  NAP Citations

There are sites out there that aggregate business data. They take your NAP and publish them for all to see. And you really do want to be seen, right?

Some of the top sites include Acxiom, Factual, Neustar, and Infogroup.

Also, get your NAP on less official sites like Yelp, Citysearch, and other places where people might look for reviews.

8. Local Backlinks, Anyone?

Your competition isn’t likely to give you a backlink. There are other businesses in your area who aren’t directly competing with you, right?

Why not network with these people? Get to know them. Maybe offer to guest post on their site?

You could get some valuable local backlinks from doing this. And really, it never hurts to ask.

9. Images Are Worth Something

Your Google business page isn’t just a place for words. You can add a picture too. This will make your listing stand out among the boring other people who don’t upload a photo or two.

Also, Google image search is a thing. If you put up images of your business anywhere and optimize for image search, you’ll get some traffic from Google image search.

10. Would You Like a Tour?

Virtual tours aren’t just for real estate listings anymore. You can pay a little bit of cash and get someone to visually map out your business. Then, if you post it to your business page and your website, customers can oggle your wares before they even set foot inside.

They may even be more likely to come check out your shop if they see what it’s like inside. This is especially important if your real storefront is non-descript.

11. Keep People There With Great Content

People aren’t going to spend much time on your site if all you have are sales listings or hours of operation. Give them something to look at while they’re there.

This means great content. A blog, a video section, anything to keep them browsing your site.

Not only will this show you as an expert in your field, it will signal to Google that your page is valuable and interesting to customers.

12. Spread That Link Juice

This is one of the most basic SEO tips I could put here. But you may not have heard it, so here goes.

You need to link internally between pages on your website. If one post goes viral but isn’t linked back to anything, your whole site won’t benefit. That’s how this works.

So, don’t isolate one page in all of your stuff. Make sure your website is a network in and of itself.

13. Have Actual Meetups

Creating a community around your business is a great way to increase sales and loyalty. But the reason I’m talking about community is more to benefit your online presence.

The more customers meet together, the more they’ll blab online about your business. Also, if you post about meetups on your site, Google will pick up on that and post it in their local events section.

Win-win.

Our Habits Make Us: Weekend Habits of Highly Successful People





If you’re feeling restless, demotivated, and sleepless, you might want to look at your screen habits. Patient.info recently did a survey of over 2,000 people. They found that people who binge-watch tv are three times more likely to feel depressed, anxious, sleepless and empty.

This was especially true of the 18-24-year-old crowd. But highly successful people will not be among those surveyed. Why? Because they spend their weekends wisely.

This doesn’t mean they’re workaholics. On the contrary, many habits of highly successful people have nothing to do with work.

So here’s a list of the most interesting weekend habits of highly successful people.

1. Unplug for 24 Hours

Fortunately, we don’t stone people for not doing this anymore. But an ancient practice might be useful for contemporary citizens.

I’m talking, of course, about the Sabbath. In Hebrew and Jewish culture and lore, God worked on creating the earth for six days. And on the seventh, he rested.

In honor of this day God modeled, the Hebrews practiced a day of total rest and worship. They even created a bunch of mundane laws to keep themselves and anyone in their gates from working on that day.

While we probably won’t follow laws that dictate how many steps we’ll take on our day of rest, we can follow the principle of the Jewish Sabbath. And that’s taking a day to unplug from the world.

Turn off your cell phones, your laptops, your tablets, and TV screens. If you need a 24-hours, a great metric is sunset to sunset, which the Jewish people still use to mark their Friday-Saturday Sabbath.

Instead of being inside, get out in nature. Find a park or a green space if you’re in a city. Find a trail if you’re out in the mountains.

You’ll be refreshed for the rest of the week and you’ll find that you sleep better and you’ll have a clearer mind.

2. Keep the Same Wake/Sleep Schedule

It’s tempting to sleep in on Saturday. You’ve been going hard all week. But unless you’re sick, you’ll side rail your schedule if you sleep in on your weekend days.

Instead, have something ready to do when you wake up on Saturday. That could be as simple as “go for a walk” or “go for a jog.”

Once Monday hits, you’ll still be in the habit of waking up for work. While everyone else is fighting the Monday blues, you’ll be rip-roaring, and ready to take on the world.

3. Actually Spend Time With Family and Friends

One other aspect of the Sabbath principle many people ignore is the community aspect. It’s great to spend time by yourself during your 24-hours of rest. But you’ll benefit even more if you participate in it with other people.

Encourage others to take a 24-hour break from technology with you. Then get them together for food and conversation.

If you’re friends with people who love to get outside, plan a hike or a walk or bike ride around the city.

4. Be Active

If you asked any of the high profile entrepreneurs what they do on the weekends, you’ll find that many of them are actually active people.

People like Vogue’s editor-in-chief play tennis. Richard Branson loves to kite surf. And the fourth richest person in India is a marathon runner.

Your mind responds to how fit your body is. We’ve even found that just taking a walk every day like Stephen King and many writers over the centuries have done gets the neurons firing.

5. Don’t Pack Your Day

Even during the week, star entrepreneur Tim Ferris recommends only having two goals or tasks for your day. He isn’t a fan of multi-tasking.

And really, our ability to concentrate or succeed diminishes the more we try to do at once. One bit of evidence comes from the effect of smartphones on our emotional and work-oriented intelligence.

We’ve found that even having your smartphone nearby in a bag where you could check it will reduce your brain power. You won’t concentrate nearly as well and you’ll end up distracted at some point anyway.

So, tether your cell phone. And reduce the number of things you have planned for the weekend. You’ll find it easier to relax when you need to and you’ll feel accomplished at the end of the weekend.

6. Be Still and Know

If every day of the week is get up and go until you drop at midnight, you’re doing life wrong. We’re not meant to put on the gas 24-7. Our brains just overload.

Guess who doesn’t get up and go until she drops. Oprah.

Oprah spends 20 minutes twice a day being still. Meditation increases immune function, decreases pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, stress, etc. You name it, meditation seems to improve it.

On the weekends, you can increase the amount of time you spend being still. Get maximum benefit out of meditation. You’ll see a ripple effect through your whole week.

7. JOMO Instead of FOMO

As entrepreneurs, we often capitalize on the fear of missing out. We want people to participate in our brand because they won’t experience something again.

Also as entrepreneurs, we often fall into the trap we’ve set for others. We fill our lives with events because we feel we’ll miss opportunities to connect.

Brandi Zuckerberg talks about the opposite. She says we should embrace missing out. She calls it JOMO or the joy of missing out.

We base too many of our decisions on fear. And when we do that, we add stress to our lives. Instead of being afraid of what we’re missing, focus on what we’re enjoying.

Decline invites to parties and feel good about it. Instead do something for yourself or for your family. And take joy in the doing.

8. Pay It Forward

If you’re successful, you’re blessed. No matter what you believe in this life, you are probably in the top 1% of the people in this world.

Giving back to others is the best way to celebrate your success. And you’ll quickly find that your life is more full of something to give than you think.

The first thing people often think of when they think of giving is money. But money isn’t always the best route.

73% of rich people give at least five hours of their time in volunteer activities a month. That’s not much. You could probably afford giving more time than you think.

Find a charity to get involved in. Go to your local food bank. Take your blessings and pay them forward.

9. Take the Weekend to Reflect

Bill Gates is one of the most successful people in the world. But even he sees value in reflection. He says that while success is great, failure is the best teacher.

So take some time and look back at your week. Figure out where you failed and write down how you can succeed next time.

10. Plan Out the Rest of Your Week

You’re more likely to accomplish something if you’ve decided to do it beforehand. You’re also more likely to accomplish something if you can imagine the positive outcome.

Spend an hour or two on Sunday evening planning out your week. Use Tim Ferris’ principle of making two major accomplishable goals a day — something like “contact Atlanta SEO Solutions and set up an SEO campaign; write a 2k word blog post.”

Schedule in time for exercise and time for meditation. Once you have it written down, you’re more likely to do it. And you won’t suffer from analysis paralysis once you’re there.

11. Plan Your Weekend Before the Weekend

Adventist universities schedule no classes after noon on Fridays. This gives students time to prepare for their weekend rest.

It’s an interesting practice and it seems to give students more time to do homework and do long weekend activities.

One thing you can take from this is the practice of preparing for the weekend. Jewish people do all their cleaning and cooking the evening before sunset Friday so they don’t have to cook or clean on Sabbath.

You don’t have to go that extreme, but if you’re going to take 24-hours to unplug, if you’re going to meditate or spend time with family or be active, it’s wise to plan. This way you will stick to your plan instead of binge-watching some new TV-show on Hulu.

If you can plan your weekend and use it wisely, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go on Monday. You’ll steam roll the week with success and then be ready to maximize your weekend again the next time around.

Lamborghini Rear Bumper Delete Mod – Good or Bad?





An interesting modding trend I see at Cars and Coffee is removing the rear bumper off your Lamborghini to show off the exhaust system. My question is, is this a good or bad thing?

In addition to the bumperless Lambo, I checked out some cool Ferraris, a bunch of Ford Bronco, and other cars.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Using The Tesla App To Control Your Model S 3 X





In this video, I show you how to use the Tesla iPhone or Android App to cool down your Tesla Mode S/3/X before your get into the car. It’s great for those hot summer days when you have to leave the dog in the car so you can meet some fellow internet marketers for a Dot Com Lunch. Just remember to place a note in the car window to let people know that the Tesla can keep your pet cool. Otherwise you may come back to a broken window.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

How Much Money Can You Save Working from Home?





There are innumerable reasons why you might want to quit your day job. Maybe you’ve got a horrible boss who keeps “voluntelling” you to come in on the weekend to finish up those TPS reports, because that’d “be great.” Maybe you want to take matters into your own hands, take ownership over your own career, and enjoy the limitless income potential of entrepreneurship.

Maybe you want the freedom to work when and where you want, on your own terms, doing your own thing. You want to steer your own ship and have more time to spend with your family. These are all valid reasons. Another big reason? It’s not just about the possibility of more income; it’s also about how much money can you can save by working from home, being your own boss.

Thousands of Dollars

I recently came across an article by Maddi Salmon on Quartz at Work. She’s not even coming from the perspective of striking it out on your own and working from home full time. She’s just talking about telecommuting into her day job “a couple of days each week,” and even under these much more limited circumstances, she is able to save thousands of dollars every year.

And this got me thinking, as I hadn’t really worked out the math in my own situation. How much money am I saving as a professional freelance writer and blogger who runs his own business from home full-time? Every city is different and every individual is different, but I thought some of you may find it helpful to peer into a real-world example of someone who could be in a similar situation as you are.

Let’s Break It Down

I’m not going to dive into the added matter of writing off business expenses and other related considerations, as that’s a whole other can of worms. Let’s just talk strictly about the money saved when working from home as compared to working a more traditional job in a more traditional office.

First, there’s the commute. Right now, my total commute consists of rolling out of bed and walking down the stairs to my home office. Total commute time of less than 30 seconds for a total cost of nothing. Because of this, my wife and I are able to share a single vehicle. If I drove to work, we’d need a second car.

Conservatively, the costs involved with having that second car would include insurance, depreciation, gas, and maintenance. Here in Vancouver, that’d be about $1,800 a year in insurance, about $2,000 in annual depreciation, about a $60 tank of gas every week (so about $3,000 annually), and let’s say $500 in maintenance (it’s probably more than that). That’s about $7,300, not including the opportunity cost of the time I “waste” on a traditional commute.

Second, there’s daycare. Because I work from home full time, there’s always someone home to take care of my daughter. When my wife or my mom are around, I can work. When they’re not, I can be dad. If I worked outside the home, we’d likely have to invest in a nanny or daycare to some degree. In Vancouver, daycare (if you can even get a spot) is at least $1,200 a month, if not more.

Third, there’s food and coffee. Since I work from home, I typically brew up my own cup of coffee at a cost of about 25 to 50 cents. If I visited the local coffee joint almost daily working outside of home, I could easily spend $3 to $5 a cup. Multiply through by five days a week, 50 weeks a year, that’s an annual savings of about $900. For lunch, I can make my own meal at home for less than $5 pretty easily, while a meal out is at least $10. Conservatively, that’s an annual savings of over $1,000. Combined with coffee, we’re now looking at about $2,000 each year.

Fourth, we’ve got wardrobe. I work from home and very rarely actually meet with clients face-to-face. As a result, I spend almost nothing on work-related clothing. If I worked in an office, I’d have some upkeep to maintain. Dress shirts, ties, suit jackets, shoes, plus the increased wear and tear on essentials. This will vary widely from individual to individual, but you can easily spend $1,000 a year to maintain a professional appearance, if not much, much more.

Tallying It Up

Remember that these are very conservative estimates and it’s naturally going to vary a lot based on who and where you are. Maybe your commute costs are way more or maybe you can find much more affordable daycare in your area. But here are the rough numbers for my situation over the course of a typical year.

  • Commute: $7,300
  • Daycare: $14,400
  • Food/coffee: $2,000
  • Wardrobe: $1,000
  • Total: $24,700

Nearly $25,000 is hardly anything to sneeze at. That’s the equivalent of making about $100 more each workday or about $12 more an hour (based on a 40-hour week). When you put it this way, even if you take a temporary pay cut for quitting your “comfortable” day job to pursue online ventures from home, you could effectively still come out well ahead. And I’m not even factoring for all kinds of other potential savings and benefits.

Do the math. Working from home is worth it.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Avoid These Top Internet Marketing Blunders





Internet marketing is a very fragile business because it’s very competitive, and takes a lot of patience. However, there are cool ways you can improve your marketing by researching your niche, and applying the strategies you learn at the same time. Over the years, whenever I start a blog, I’ll always research my niche and the top bloggers in my market to learn what I can from them. Since they have been in the business longer it helps me avoid the mistakes they have made along the way. Avoiding these mistakes will help me grow faster, and build my brand quickly. Next,

We have so many cool ways to market our blog which were NOT available before. For example, we have social media which will excel the rate of blog growth 10 fold. The top social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have enormous niche relevant visitors which can build momentum quickly to your content. However, the secret is to know how to use these networks, and avoid the common mistakes made by rookie bloggers. So, what have I decided to focus on today? Simple…

I searched for the biggest mistakes authority bloggers have made when starting out, and want to discuss them with you now. This is great for those just starting, or those who have been in the business for years. It’s never too late to tweak your style so you optimize your marketing and blog growth. Let’s get started and your feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Growth Rate Failure

You’ve started a blog, and want to make sure it grows over the years, however fail to focus on the growth rate. This is one of the worst mistakes anyone can make in the industry because you won’t know what has worked or what has stagnant your growth. In blogging, you always want to make sure every decision you make will increase your brand, and growth over a certain time period. This is why it’s important to make sure you have the right tools in place which will give you a better overview of your growth rate. For example, you should always ask yourself these questions going forward.

  • How much has my blog grown over the last month?
  • What has optimized my blog growth?
  • What tools should I use to track growth?
  • How have I drove traffic to my blog in recent months?

Answering all these questions will help you implement the right strategy going forward making sure you keep growing. For example, ask yourself how much content should you be writing to keep your blog fresh because we all know how unattractive a blog with old content is…right?

I suggest you install Google analytics to your blog so you can trace where your visitors are going, and then can focus on those same avenues going forward. You’ll still want to try new things, however this way you can focus on what has been working at the same time.

Very Small Niche

It’s tough building your business in a very small niche. It’s even harder generating profit when you have a very small audience which is why it’s important target a big enough niche. Focusing on a wide enough niche will give you the leverage to try different things, and build a brand around a specific topic. For example, “make money online” is a huge niche, and I can keep narrowing it down even further. I can focus on keywords like:

  • Blogging
  • Advertising
  • Content marketing
  • eBooks
  • Social media
  • Etc

This will just give me the flexibility to try different things, and you won’t run out of ideas. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner or even search to find cool markets which haven’t been tapped into. Then start to narrow down each topic by looking at sub-keywords and products which you can focus on. Many times I have head over to Amazon.com, and started looking at the best sellers within a niche. The fact that many people have been purchasing a specific product means it’s a very HOT niche. It’s important to think outside the box, and choose a niche which has a huge audience, and isn’t competitive.

If you head over to Google and type in some keywords, you’ll be able to find some awesome niches which haven’t been tapped into by a wide range of bloggers.

Not Marketing Enough

It doesn’t matter if you just started out, or have been in the business for a long time because you have to keep marketing. The thing many people don’t understand is times are much different now, and you have to battle others to get ahead in the line so use what’s available to you. The fact so many social media websites popped up is a good thing, but can work against you too. Let me explain this a bit better…

Years ago starting a blog, writing content and generating a following was easier. It was simply based on first come first serve, and the search engines didn’t have complicated algorithms as they do now. This meant you were ranked based on start date, and how many keywords you had in your content relevant to a search phrase. However, now you have over 200 rankings factors which determine your place within the SERP’s. Here are just some of them:

  • Content freshness
  • Depp linking
  • Domain authority
  • Page authority
  • Social signals
  • Internal linking
  • Keywords
  • LSI
  • Long-tail
  • And many others

Since things have gotten more complicated I encourage all of you to try different marketing avenues available to you. For example, start investing in banner advertising, CPC, content marketing and others. This will allow you to outshine your competition within your niche if necessary. A lot of this will obviously depend on your niche, and how many others are dominating within it, but choosing to actively market will increase the likelihood of conversions. Start by doing a quick search in Google, and creating a list of marketing platforms. This way you can start to try different ones and keeping track of the long term conversions.

Retention vs Acquisition

As a blogger you have to pay close attention to customer retention, and acquisition. For those of you NOT familiar with these two phrases, let’s take a quick look at each:

Acquisition: This is where you continue to grow your visitors by getting new customers.

Retention: This is where you hold on to the visitors you already have visiting your website.

It’s important you continue to do both, but more importantly focus on your existing customer or reader base. Why? If you start to lose readers, this means you have a deeper underlying problem. It means you have a problem with new content bring published or have LOST the quality of your product or services. No one wants to lose customers especially when they have been active readers of your blog for several years…right?

Here is my point….

One of the biggest blunders I’ve see bloggers make is NOT focus on acquisition and retention enough. They take visitors for granted thinking they’ll stick around forever once active readers of your blog. This mentality will get you in trouble in the long run because losing readers mean you are failing to do something important which you did when starting.

As a blog owner make sure you keep a close eye on why your blog grew, and going forward make sure you continue to focus on the same things.

Delaying to Grow or Blog

For my final point I want to discuss something very important. You have to make sure you blog and write content every day. We are at a time where we should be focusing on content marketing because this is what search engines and people are looking for. More people turn to the internet to find solutions to their problems, and they expect to find them when searching through Google, etc. As a matter of fact, Google has made this clear numerous times over the last few years. Let’s take a look at what they’ve done in recent years.

Algorithm Changes – You’ve seen more changes in the recent years then ever before. These are focused at bettering search results, removing poor quality sites, and those which use manipulation to rank keywords.

Ranking Factors – You’ve seen a huge change in what now ranks your content compared to before. For example, more emphasis is given to content, social signals, domain and page authority.

Bounce Rate – Google tracks user experience by looking at bounce rate differently. They time pages more accurately which will show them the quality of your content.

Internal Linking – More important now then ever before because a solid linking patterning increases the authority of other pages. Google looks for “total” authority instead of single page when ranking websites.

These are just some examples however you can imagine how many other factors matter when ranking your website. I recommend you have a solid content writing schedule so you can keep writing up-to-date content. Google has build their reputation by focusing on providing accurate information, and one way to achieve this is by writing content people actually want to read.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a solid list of common blunders made by bloggers, it’s important you start implementing what you’ve learned above. Start by reading over this content one more time and making notes along the way so you understand the material. Many times, you’ll still continue to make the same mistakes because you haven’t understood what I’ve mentioned above. This can be avoided by readings the content above one more time, and writing out the fundamentals in point form.

The next time you write content you can start applying these strategies and always have a way to track statistics. The thing you should do is track what’s been working so you can continue to use those and avoid the ones which produce little results. Remember, in the final point I discussed the importance of retention and acquisition which should always be your ultimate focus. Keeping both these elements in mind will allow you to keep writing content to build a bigger following, and keep those who have already been loyal readers.

Here’s something else which I forgot to mention above that I’ll go over now…

Social media is a great way to keep building readership because it taps into a huge amount of people everyday. However, you have to know how to use certain networks. For example, find out how to use social media tools which allow you to focus people in your niche. In Twitter, I use a tool called hashtagify.com which gives you a list of the MOST popular #hashtags in your niche. You start by typing in your main keyword, and the tool will generate a table of popular #hashtags which you can then implement into your tweet. For those of you unaware: #hashtags are Twitters way to sort information being shared on their network, and it’s been a valuable way so far. Learn how to use different strategies for other networks so you can get your content found on social networks which will generate enormous traffic to your blog.

Remember, having a tracking tool which will tell you where your traffic is coming from so you can continue to use that avenue going forward for blog growth. At the same time, you should be focusing on blogger retention through existing content marketing, etc.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!

Is Blog Commenting Dead?





Let me tell you a little story about how I came to meet John Chow and how we’ve grown to become pretty good friends over the years. Heck, I even crashed at his guest house in Washington at one point.

Learning to Make Money Online

Even though I’d be writing online for years prior, I didn’t really turn that into professional blogging and freelance writing until 2006. I started learning about Internet marketing, online advertising, search engine optimization and all the rest of it. Coincidentally, it was also around that time that John decided to run his little experiment to see if it was possible to earn a full-time income from part-time blogging. We all know how that turned out for him.

At the time, I didn’t really know him, of course. I only knew *of* him, but we just so happened to have a mutual friend who I knew from one of the local car forums… who was also getting into blogging around the same time. It’s one of those perfect storm kind of scenarios. My friend said I should check out John’s blog for insight and tips and advice, and so I did.

Understandably, John Chow dot Com looks pretty different today than it did over a decade ago. Back then, John had a widget in the sidebar that would display the top five or top ten commentators on the site each month based purely on volume. The five people who left the most comments would be “featured” in the sidebar with the count resetting each month. The competition was understandably fierce, because while all links in the comments themselves were nofollow, the sidebar links were dofollow.

Release the Hounds!

So, I did what any self-respecting new blogger would do. I spammed the site so hard with so many comments for so long that I consistently showed up in that top commentator list almost every month. Looking back, my time was probably better spent and I’m not completely convinced how much of a positive impact it really had on my SEO, but the net result was I got on John’s radar, we met over Dot Com Pho, we co-authored a book, and the rest is history.

Which leads me all the way back to today and the current state of blog commenting on the web. Back then, some blogs (I think including mine, but I’m not 100% positive) allowed for dofollow links in the comments as a means of encouraging people to leave comments. This worked, to some degree, but it wasn’t long before commenting bots and spam services showed up to take advantage. Blog commenting for some dofollow SEO link juice very quickly became an undesirable practice.

Some people say that even if the links are nofollow, they carry some SEO value from anchor text and relevance. I’ll leave that up to debate another day. What I will say is that, particularly since pretty well all blog comments are nofollow across the board these days, link building through leaving comments on blogs isn’t really going to work. But this doesn’t mean that blog commenting is worthless.

A Penny for Your Thoughts

The state of blog commenting now is the same as it was when I was spamming this blog some 12 years ago. It’s ultimately about curating relationships, attracting attention, and establishing expertise. If I had not been so active commenting on John Chow dot Com back then, I may not have ever met John in person and I may not have connected with so many other people through that relationship as a result. It’s because of John that I’ve had the opportunity to work with people like Zac Johnson and Nate Whitehill. It’s because of those comments, to some degree, that I’m blogging here today.

So what does this really mean for you?

Keep commenting, but do it with a purpose. Do it because you actually want to engage with other human beings in meaningful conversation. Do it because you’re adding value to the discussion, asking good questions and providing answers and clarification to your fellow readers. Do it to be personal, genuine, and approachable, so people know you’re actually a real human being who may have something to offer them.

Be relevant, be worthwhile, and you just might get noticed by the right people too.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!